This Q&A has been developed to provide guidance to certificate holders and certification bodies with regards to the Measures to Strengthen the Cocoa Sector.
This Q&A makes reference to requirements in the Policy For Farm and Chain Of Custody Certification In Cocoa In West Africa published in April 2020 and updated July 2022.
More information on the Audit Allocation system can be found here.
For questions about the use of the new Rainforest Alliance certification seal on cocoa products, please visit FAQ: New Rainforest Alliance Certification Seal.
Cap on group growth
Will there be a cap on group growth for groups going through the transition year 2 audits against the 2020 Rainforest Alliance Farm standard?
Yes there is a cap on the growth in group membership for Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon. The details of this can be found in clause 1.A. 1.3 of the Policy for Farm and Supply Chain Certification in Cocoa v2.3
- For groups with less than 2000 producers, the total number of certified producers in a group shall only grow by 30% over the whole certification year in comparison to the total number of certified producers in the previous certification year (certification audit and/or extension audit).
- Groups with more than 2000 producers shall only grow by 10% over the whole certification year in comparison to the total number of certified producers in the previous certification year (certification audit and/or extension audit)
What are the current geolocation data requirements for cocoa groups in West Africa?
For all transition audits taking place from 1st July 2022 – 30th June 2023, the requirement 1.2.12 of the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard Farm Requirements applies. This requires groups to provide geolocation data for the largest farm unit of 100% of the farms, and for at least 10% of the farms, this is in the form of a GPS polygon. For all other farms, this can be in the form of a location point.
For year 1 of certification (2023-2024) the additional requirements of the Cocoa Policy V2.3 will come into effect (for Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire only):
For Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire:
- For year 1 of certification (1 July 2022–30 June 2023), geolocation data is available for 100% of all farm units, of which at least 30% is in the form of polygons. This is an acceleration of requirement 1.2.14 L1 in the RA 2020 Sustainable Agricultural Standard.
- In year 4 (start of second certification cycle), Polygons are available for 100% of the farm units. This is an acceleration of requirement 1.2.15 L2 in the RA 2020 Sustainable Agricultural Standard
For Nigeria and Cameroon, there are no additional requirements on geolocation data. Certificate Holders in those countries must be compliant with the requirements of the 1.2 Sustainable Agricultural Standard – Farm requirements.
All Farm Certificate Holders (CH), whatever their crop or location, need to submit their Group Member Registry (GMR) on the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform (RACP) prior to the audit in order to obtain their deforestation and encroachment risk analyses.
Which specific governmental ID is being requested in the Group Member Registry (GMR)?
All groups need to indicate in the new GMR template (Annex S13, tab 1. Farm information, column M) the National ID of each group member which has this information available.
For Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana specifically, the 2.3 Cocoa Policy imposes minimum requirements regarding the provision of national ID number. For Côte d’Ivoire, groups must indicate the National ID number of at least 30% of their group members. For Ghana, the minimum is 25%.
Auditors will check the accuracy of the information in the GMR during the audit and raise a non-conformity if any discrepancy is found between what is indicated therein and what is cross-checked at producer level. The auditor will also raise a non-conformity if, during the audit, it is found that a group member is in possession of a national ID and that this was not indicated in the registry.
Type of national ID requested per country
- Groups need to indicate the personal ID number of group members which is shown on the Ghana Card. Therefore the number indicated in the GMR shall be the 13 digit number under ‘personal ID number’ as shown on the front side of the card.
These are the options for groups:
- If the group member is in possession of the new national identity card (Carte Nationale d’Identité – CNI), the NNI (Numero National d’Identification) on the flip side of the card must be indicated.
- If the group member is not yet in possession of the new identity card (CNI), the “numéro d’immatriculation” which can be found either on the old National Identity card (Carte Nationale d’Identité) or on the voter’s card (Carte d’électeur), must be indicated.
- For non-Ivorian group members, the GMR needs to show the number indicated on their residency card (Carte consulaire for Burkina Faso and NINA for Mali).
Groups need to use the 11-digit National Identity Number (NIN) in the GMR for their group members. The NIN can be found on the National Identity Number slip issued to every citizen who has enrolled with the national identity management commission.
Any of the ancient, provisory or new national ID formats will be accepted in the GMR for group members.
Detailed information on the type of national ID requested (including images) can be found in the Instructions for Cocoa Groups in Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Nigeria on National Identification Requirements which can be consulted through the link on Instructions for Cocoa Groups in Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Nigeria on National Identification Requirements.
What should be indicated in the group member registry if group members do not possess or have lost their ID card? Or if the only proof of identity available is different than the one requested by Rainforest Alliance?
If some group members do not yet have the National Government ID or the proof of identity as indicated by the Rainforest Alliance, then this cell should be left blank for that group member only (Column O – 15. National ID Number). However, groups are expected to get those group members to start the administrative process as soon as possible to obtain their government ID.
For cocoa farm CH in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, please see the Policy for Farm and Supply Chain Certification in Cocoa v2.3 on the minimum percentage of group members which should indicate their government ID in the registry.
For further guidance on which government ID to indicate per country, consult the Rainforest Alliance Instructions for Cocoa Groups in Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Nigeria on National Identification Requirements.
What is the latest on audit allocation for audits during transition year 2 (2022 – 2023)?
Since June 2022, Rainforest Alliance has suspended audit allocation in Cote d’Ivoire. Cocoa groups in Cote d’Ivoire who want to apply for an audit must upload their GMR and contract a Certification Body authorized by Rainforest Alliance. Find the list of authorized certification bodies in the link here.
Audit allocation remains applicable to cocoa groups in Ghana.
What is the audit process for Côte d’Ivoire now that audit allocation no longer applies?
Since July 1st 2022, Rainforest Alliance has suspended the Policy for Certification timelines and Procedures for groups in Cote d’Ivoire. This includes the suspension of mandatory on-site verifications for high (4) and very high (5) risk groups. All groups, regardless of risk level, must now have a single on-site audit and will have 10 weeks for closure of non-conformities as described in the 1.2 Certification and Auditing Rules. High risk groups will receive more important information on audit process and deadlines for the current October 2022 season through email in the coming days.
Please note that all cocoa groups in Cote d’Ivoire still need to comply with the audit cycle assigned to them based on risk level. Low and medium risk groups must have their audit in the April harvest cycle, while high risk groups must have their audit in the October harvest cycle. These requirements are now enforced through the new version of the Cocoa Policy (2.3).
How will the audit allocation in Ghana work for the audit season starting 1st July 2022?
The audit allocation process will be in effect for all new and existing cocoa farm certificate holders in Ghana from July 1st 2022.
In order to be allocated for the October 2022 harvest, all cocoa groups in Ghana must have already registered on the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform. It is essential that registration is done thoroughly to ensure that groups receive the correct contextualized checklist for their operations. This will ensure thorough preparation is done by the groups prior to their audit. Once groups have registered and been approved by the Rainforest Alliance, they must upload a complete and updated GMR. Once the GMR has been uploaded, the group will be allocated to a Certification Body. Communication to both groups and Certification Bodies on the allocation process will begin in June and continue until the beginning of the harvest.
New groups and groups with licenses expiring before September 30th, 2022, will be prioritized for both audit allocation and audits. To know more about the allocation process, please refer to the Cocoa Policy V2.3, Chapter 3.5.
What is the right time period for farm certificate holders to have their audit?
Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria
For Certificate Holders in Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria, the audit timelines described in the 1.2 Certification and Auditing rules apply. According to clause 1.5.29 of the rules: The (re)certification audit shall take place between 3 months before and 3 months after the start date of the harvest of the main crop to be certified.
The requirement does not specify which harvest (big or small), which means that Certificate Holders can choose if they want to conduct their audit around the October (main) harvest or the April (small) harvest. However, if the Certificate Holder wants to certify the main October harvest, they have to do the audit 3 months before or after the start date of the harvest (1 October). This means the audit should be conducted between 1 July and 31 December. All audits between 1 January and 30 June will be aligned with the April harvest, which means the certificate validity will cover 1 April to 1 April. The April certificate WILL NOT include volumes of the October 2022 season.
- Audit on 15 October 2022: certificate covers 1 October 2022 to 1 October 2023
- Audit on 15 January 2023: certificate covers 1 April 2023 to 1 April 2024
In Côte d’Ivoire, the timelines are different from the 1.2 of the Certification & Auditing rules. Cocoa groups in Côte d’Ivoire must follow the certification timelines described in the 2.3 Cocoa Policy (annex 1). The audit window and certificate validity depend on the risk level of the Certificate Holder.
- High risk groups must have their audit between 1st of May and 1st of November.
- Low and medium risk groups must have their audit between 1st of January and 30th of June.
- All certificates are aligned with the October harvest.
If you are a cocoa group in Côte d’Ivoire and you are not aware of your risk level, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Groups that are new to the Rainforest Alliance program are always considered very high risk (5).
- High risk group, audit on 15 August 2022: certificate valid from 1 October 2022 to 1 October 2023
- Low/Medium risk group, next audit on 15 February 2023: certificate valid from 1 October 2023 to 1 October 2024
Cocoa policy version 2.3
Has there been any update of the Cocoa Policy?
Yes. On 1st July 2022 the Rainforest Alliance published Policy for Farm and Supply Chain Certification in Cocoa V2.3.
Version 2.3 of the Policy for Farm and Supply Chain Certification in Cocoa is now available on the Rainforest Alliance website. It replaces version 2.2 which expired on July 1st, 2022. The cocoa policy is applicable to cocoa farm and supply chain certificate holders and their certification bodies in West Africa.
The majority of requirements of the previous 2.2 version remain applicable during the second transition year (July 1st, 2022 to June 30th, 2023). The applicability of some requirements has been extended to Cameroon and Nigeria. In the same way, requirements related to audit allocation are now only applicable to Ghana. For Cote d’Ivoire, there are new requirements and a binding annex on risk level. CHs must have their audit in the harvest cycle corresponding to their risk level. Risk level has no further impact on the certification process of CHs.
When will the current traceability systems, GIP and Marketplace, be migrated to Multitrace for cocoa?
The migration of traceability data from the Good Inside Portal (GIP) into MultiTrace is now completed.
Our traceability system supports the proposed interventions. This includes allowing for origin matching mass balance, seal use and approvals, shared responsibility and other elements of the 2020 cocoa strategy. For more details on the implementation and migration timelines please see our page on Understanding End-to-End Cocoa Traceability and the Multitrace Platform.
How do I access the volumes of my Rainforest Alliance 2020 license?
Volumes from new RA2020 (transition) farm licenses are not available in the old MultiTrace account linked to the pre-merger platforms. They can only be accessed through the traceability button in your account on the Rainforest Alliance Certification Program (RACP).
Will I still be able to access my volumes in GIP or Marketplace after the migration to MultiTrace?
After the migration you will only be able to view GIP or Marketplace in a read-only mode for traceability. You will not be able to perform any traceability related actions in the system.
What actions are needed by Certificate holders to demonstrate traceability in MultiTrace?
- Farm certificate holders are required to sell their volumes in MultiTrace in accordance with the appropriate standard.
- All certificate holders—farmers and companies—will need to log in and announce the sales, purchases, conversions, blends/mixes, manufacturing activities in the traceability platform within the timelines required by our new program.
The Rainforest Alliance has introduced a mandatory Sustainability Differential under our new 2020 Certification program. To find out more, please visit our Supply Chain FAQ. Detailed information about the Sustainability Differential for cocoa, including a Q&A section, is available here.